Mr. Bronston, a bad-tempered Draik who worked as a Neoschool
teacher, sighed as his eyes scanned the staff’s newsletter that had been dropped
off in his mailbox. Apparently, he had been bestowed the fantastic "honor" of
organizing the Neoschool’s fourth annual fifth grade camping trip. Whoopee.
He snorted contemptuously as he ferociously crumpled up the letter and burned
it to a crisp with his fiery breath before casting the remains carelessly into
Every year the Neoschool participated in a physical
education camp program, and every year some poor sap was randomly selected to
organize the whole trip. Mr. Bronston knew that his turn had been coming soon.
He had gotten off easy so far, whenever the Neoschool held a fundraiser he always
got the easy ones, like door-to-door cookie sellers, a responsibility that he
could dump on his students. But not this year.
Every teacher who had been unlucky enough to
have to lead the camping trip had come back bitten, bruised, and very world-weary.
It was something about the great outdoors that made students wild, particularly
fifth grade students. Mr. Bronston suddenly remembered something. He moaned
and buried his face in his claws, attempting vainly to erase the horrible image
that was burning in his mind. An image of a face, a face of a Halloween Ixi.
One Halloween Ixi in particular, actually.
Zarrelian, the evilest little demon to ever
stalk the halls of the Neoschool. Why, why, why was Mr. Bronston chosen to organize
the camping trip the exact same year that Zarrelian was in his class? The Draik
was convinced that some jealous teacher had put a hex on him, possibly Mr. Cooldude,
the enigmatic Kougra. Mr. Bronston clenched his claws and ground his fangs together.
That Kougra made him so mad!
But, he had no time to stew over that boiling
hatred. The Draik had a camping trip to organize.
It wasn’t as though he would be completely alone.
The other two fifth grade teachers would be going along, too. They would just
be in a separate car on the way there, a separate cabin while staying there,
and they wouldn’t have to engage in any physical contact with any of the students
whatsoever. They were only there for emergencies, like if a Magtile or a rabid
Snowbunny bit one of the students. For the past five years, that had been Mr.
Bronston’s position. An overseer of the camp, observing the students, and their
extremely frazzled counselor, from a safe distance.
But not this year. This year, he would be that
poor, frazzled counselor. He would be the one taking the Pets on nature hikes,
swimming with them, making them hot chocolate, and comforting them when they
got homesick, as they all did. Dumb Pets. Why did they get homesick? HE had
never gotten homesick while on an overnight camping trip.
Mr. Bronston sighed heavily and began scrawling
out a list of supplies for each of the students. He may as well start now.
Exactly one hour later, the school day officially
started and the more punctual students began to file quietly into the classroom.
Mr. Bronston acknowledged each one of them with a casual flick of his pen. A
few minutes later, the final bell rang, its piercing ring accompanied by the
frantic clamor of the late coming Pets who skidded into the classroom and scurried
hastily into their seats. Zarrelian, the aforementioned Halloween Ixi, was the
last one to arrive. Unlike his fellow un-conscientious peers, Zarrelian strolled
leisurely into the room and paused to wave cheerily at his miffed teacher.
"Why hello there, Mr. Bronston. Fancy seeing
you here!" he cheekily quipped, an irritating grin plastered on his oversized
face. Mr. Bronston snarled angrily.
"Sit down!" the Draik snapped, already anticipating
a major headache. The Ixi obliged and slid quickly into his seat. Mr. Bronston
glared Zarrelian for a few moments before snapping around and folding his claws
behind his back, swaggering up and down the front of the classroom in a style
similar to that of a drill sergeant’s.
"Alright class. This is it. This… is the end,"
he stated, crimson-scaled head held high in the air. His students scratched
their heads and exchanged perplexed glances. The Draik flicked his tail slightly
"The end, that is, of my sanity. Because I have
been selected to organize the annual fifth grade camping trip." The last bit
of Mr. Bronston’s speech was drowned out by the loud cacophony of cheering emanating
from his students’ throats.
"We’re going camping! We’re going camping!"
some random Kyrii shrieked.
"We get hot chocolate! And we get to go on nature
hikes!" an unnamed Bruce added. Mr. Bronston waved his claws frantically in
the air, calling for silence and order.
"Yes, yes, I know. It’s horrible. A five hour
bus ride through the Lost Desert, followed by a three day camp in the densest
part of the Haunted Woods," the Draik responded, sighing sadly.
Zarrelian rubbed his hooves together and sniggered.
Three days in the Haunted Woods… Mr. Bronston was just asking for a disaster,
courtesy of one Ixi of Doom. The appropriately colored Halloween Ixi watched
with mild interest as Mr. Bronston stomped up and down the rows of desks, passing
out lists of equipment. Zarrelian peered interestedly at the sheet that his
teacher had given him, snorting at the items that he thought were useless. He
raised a well-polished hoof and waved it around it the air, flapping his tiny
wings anxiously. Mr. Bronston rolled his eyes.
"What is it, Ixi?" the Draik asked. Zarrelian
narrowed his eyes, jabbing a hoof at the equipment list.
"What do we need five ponchos for?
We’re only going camping for three days!" he demanded. A few of his
fellow students nodded silently in agreement. Mr. Bronston sighed exasperatedly.
"In case four of them get eaten by a Bearog,
what do you think?" he snarled. Zarrelian raised an eyebrow, but kept quiet.
He knew from past experiences that Mr. Bronston could get very nasty when he
The Draik snorted; thin plumes of smoke drifting
from his nostrils. The Pets sitting in the front row scooted their desks back
a few feet. When Mr. Bronston started spewing smoke, it meant that he was angry
and would probably begin blowing fire shortly.
"Now," Mr. Bronston began. "I realize that some
of you are being… unhappy campers," he said softly. Zarrelian shuddered.
"I don’t like unhappy campers, you know. I’m
being judged on this trip, and if the head of the Neoschool board is displeased
with my performance, then I could get FIRED. You don’t want that to happen to
me, do you?" Mr. Bronston continued. Zarrelian's heart fluttered.
"If you were fired, then who would take over
our class?" he asked eagerly. Mr. Bronston shrugged.
"Either Mr. Cooldude or Ms. Lotsafun," he replied.
Zarrelian grinned. Both of those teachers were
reputed for being extremely friendly, fun and kind. The Ixi was suddenly struck
by inspiration. If he ruined the camping trip… then Mr. Bronston would be fired!
Zarrelian fought back the urge to laugh out loud. His teacher would rue the
day that he had been chosen to organize the fourth annual fifth grade camping
To be continued...